In The Crosshairs

Chris Kyle, a decorated sniper, tried to help a troubled veteran. The result was tragic.

Disarming Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout made his first major foray into the weapons business in 1995, on a pleasant summer day in Bulgaria. A Russian entrepreneur who was then twenty-eight years old, he had flown to Sofia from Sharjah, the third-largest city in the United Arab Emirates, where he had lived for the previous two years. Sharjah was a kind of postmodern caravansary—as Bout told me recently, it was a place with “practically no law.” Although he had arrived in the Emirates not knowing much about Arab culture, he had a cosmopolitan ability to adapt to new circumstances. He was intending to enter the field of aviation. Supple with languages, he could flip among Russian, English, Portuguese, and Esperanto; today, he says, he can “read fifteen or sixteen languages, go to the market with nine or ten, and fluently speak five or six.” He started spending time at the cargo hangars at Sharjah’s international airport, got to know the pilots and crews, and soon formed an air-freight company, Air Cess, with a small fleet of Russian planes.

Getting Bin Laden

Shortly after eleven o’clock on the night of May 1st, two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters lifted off from Jalalabad Air Field, in eastern Afghanistan, and embarked on a covert mission into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. Inside the aircraft were twenty-three Navy SEALs from Team Six, which is officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU. A Pakistani-American translator, whom I will call Ahmed, and a dog named Cairo—a Belgian Malinois—were also aboard. It was a moonless evening, and the helicopters’ pilots, wearing night-vision goggles, flew without lights over mountains that straddle the border with Pakistan. Radio communications were kept to a minimum, and an eerie calm settled inside the aircraft.

Fifteen minutes later, the helicopters ducked into an alpine valley and slipped, undetected, into Pakistani airspace. For more than sixty years, Pakistan’s military has maintained a state of high alert against its eastern neighbor, India. Because of this obsession, Pakistan’s “principal air defenses are all pointing east,” Shuja Nawaz, an expert on the Pakistani Army and the author of “Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within,” told me. Senior defense and Administration officials concur with this assessment, but a Pakistani senior military official, whom I reached at his office, in Rawalpindi, disagreed. “No one leaves their borders unattended,” he said. Though he declined to elaborate on the location or orientation of Pakistan’s radars—“It’s not where the radars are or aren’t”—he said that the American infiltration was the result of “technological gaps we have vis-à-vis the U.S.” The Black Hawks, each of which had two pilots and a crewman from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, or the Night Stalkers, had been modified to mask heat, noise, and movement; the copters’ exteriors had sharp, flat angles and were covered with radar-dampening “skin.”

Inside the Knockoff-Tennis-Shoe Factory

Lin has spent most of his adult life making sneakers, though he only entered the counterfeit business about five years ago. “What we make depends on the order,” Lin said. “But if someone wants Nikes, we’ll make them Nikes.”

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